** UPDATE – June 10, 2016
I was recently contacted by a representative of the London Theatres regarding the production of Aladdin that started in London! It’s playing at the Prince Edward Theatre in the West End.
Official information and tickets can be found here:
If you are in London I HIGHLY recommend this show. It’s a ton of fun.
Currently I’m visiting family for Christmas, where I grew up in New York state. I’ve had the opportunity to take a few “local” trips with them as I come back and forth between trips around the world. My family’s house is about an hour and a half north of New York City, which is close enough to take a day trip without too much hassle.
Aladdin Broadway Review
Recently a few of my family members and I took a trip to see the new production of Aladdin on Broadway. Shows tend to ask you not to take pictures or video during the performance and I tend to honor and respect that requests. So I have just a few pictures I took before the show started.
Layout and Design of the Theater
The show is in the New Amsterdam theater and features a nice layout with elegant designs throughout the auditorium, especially over the stage. Here’s a shot I took of a fairly ornate paining right above the stage.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a show on Broadway so it was fun to see actual boxes on the side. They all filled up, though the people who sat in them seemed like regular people to me. One or two were couples, some seemed to be friends and one with a couple of children. I’d be curious what the seats cost compared to a regular seat in the balcony.
Possibly the actor that people might go to the show to see, is James Monroe Iglehart, if only for the fact that he won a Tony award for Aladdin earlier this year and put on a fantastic performance when the cast performed one of the songs during the awards. James is a big guy so it’s a bit out of nowhere to see him dancing and cartwheeling around the stage. The performance he gave during my show was excellent. One thing that did stand out to me though is the fairly minor role the Genie has in the show. Compared to the movie where Robin Williams plays a much bigger part, the Genie isn’t on stage for what seems like pretty decent periods of time, and that does make it all the more exciting when he comes back on stage.
For the most part this is Aladdin’s show (appropriately) and he’s clearly the main character with the largest amount of time on stage. But that’s okay because the actor playing Aladdin, Adam Jacobs, does a fantastic job as well. He plays a great compliment to the Genie’s over the top personality and the two play well off one another. As I said, it’s his show to lead and even though the Genie is a great character, there was never a time I was bothered or thought, “okay okay I only want to see the Genie.” Jacobs is a great fit.
Villans and Sidekicks
Another thing that stood out, but I only found out after the show, is that one of the actors who plays Jafar is Jonathan Freeman, who was actually the voice of Jafar in the Disney movie 20 years ago. He doesn’t perform in every show, and trades off with actor Merwin Foard, who played Jafar the day that I went. For obvious reasons Jafar’s pal Iago can’t be a real life talking parrot like in the movie, so Iago is played by an actor.
Babkak, Kassim and Omar are a completely new addition. In the show Aladdin has three friends that live with him on the street and advise him through the performance. These three guys were awesome, and each had some great comedic lines that fit the tenor perfectly. Babkak especially plays the role of the “shorter, overweight, friend” who constantly makes jokes about food and being hungry.
That’s a pretty played out concept that we’ve seen in countless shows or movies and I didn’t expect to work nearly as well as it did here. But the guy was funny and it definitely worked. “They’re playing music as we’re fighting!” Is a line that stands out and had everyone on the audience laughing. Jasmine, the Sultan and all of the cast were great from start to finish. You can see the current cast and crew here.
Differences From the Movie
I won’t offer spoilers that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see from reading the playbill, since there were some things I was expecting to see that I appreciated being done in a different way. Though I will say there are good number of things that were added, taken away or altered from the film. That’s to be expected of course when you go to a live action performance from a cartoon.
In no particular order:
1) The role of Iago is slightly altered
2) Aladdin has three friends/sidekicks.
3) The role/stage time for the Genie is less than the film
4) The three wishes Aladdin makes are not all the same between the show and movie
5) Abu the monkey…
If You’re on the Fence About the Show…
The performance “Friend Like Me” seems to run nearly 10 minutes and is unbelievable across the board. The show is worth it just for this song. Also the flying carpet scene during “A Whole New World” is something to see and will leave you asking yourself, “okay so how did they do that?” No question about it, I’d highly recommend seeing Aladdin on Broadway. It’s one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long time, and certainly up there for the best I’ve seen period.